Woman relaxing on deck reading

Cunard is delighted to be launching this exceptional and unique celebration of the written word on board the flagship liner in November 2019. It’s a timely event too, as the Cheltenham Literature Festival will be celebrating its 70th anniversary, from its humble beginnings back in 1949 with just seven events in its town hall to the world-famous 10-day festival it has become today.


All three partners have worked closely to bring together a phenomenal program of talks, discussions, workshops, shows, screenings and much more – all delivered with the quality and expertise associated with these heritage brands. This promises to be an unforgettable experience for everyone on board, creating stories to be shared for many years to come.

It’s character led

Some of the major names in literature will be on board for this groundbreaking Cunard cruise event. The literati include more than 20 best-loved authors, such as Louis de Bernières, Sebastian Faulks, Victoria Hislop, Elizabeth Strout and Mark Billingham. They will also be joined by a roster of literary experts, broadcasters and, not least, acclaimed journalists from The Times, all of whom will be sharing insider secrets, fantastic observations and great insight with our Cunard guests. 


So much to learn

The renowned broadcaster and journalist James Naughtie and American political satirist P. J. O’Rourke will be giving fascinating talks during the crossing. Guests can also keep abreast of what’s happening in the world beyond Queen Mary 2 with a ‘Behind the Headlines’ seminar every morning from esteemed journalists at The Times who’ll be offering an insight into the daily news. 


A sociable crossing

‘Our literary guests have been chosen not only because they are acclaimed writers, journalists and experts in their own right, but because they will enjoy being involved with everything going on during the week,’ says Nicola Tuxworth, Head of Programming at The Cheltenham Literature Festival. ‘This could be anything from chatting to guests to joining in with all the events happening on the ship, as well as signing books in the ship’s Grand Lobby every day.’


Surprising insights

Aside from a packed program of on-board activities to pick and choose from, there are all sorts of literary extras on board to delight and intrigue guests. Spend time in the ship’s elegant library for instance, and you may meet Ella Berthoud who is a ‘Bibliotherapist’. Her vast literary knowledge, empathy and skills mean that people can ask her for personal book recommendations that cover everything from gaining knowledge on a subject to tackling a tricky dilemma or two in life…


Lots to entertain

Come along to one of the many panel events and see what our literary guests have to say on a wide range of subjects, from ‘Who’s your favourite literary villain?’ to ‘What are the books that changed your life?’. Alternatively, take your seat for a screening or two with well-known film critic Jason Solomons who will be introducing films with literary connections (including a late night horror series for those who are still up after a packed day!). And fans of P.G Wodehouse – who often sailed with Cunard in bygone days – will revel in a show inspired by the humorist’s great work: opera singer Hal Cazalet and his actress sister Lara (both Wodehouse’s descendants) have put together a lively, witty revue that may well rope in one or two of the literary names on board!


Write your novel!

Being surrounded by such fantastic literary inspiration during this week-long immersive cruise vacation is bound to rub off, so any budding writers will have every opportunity to finally get that book idea underway with a series of workshops with experts on hand to ensure you get beyond writing more than ‘Chapter One’. Who knows, in a future Literature Festival at Sea, you may well be a guest of honor, too!

On board with Cunard